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Career Overview

Pharmacists generally operate or work in retail establishments, filling prescriptions and selling medications and other health products to customers. Pharmacists also disseminate information on medication to customers and to other health workers including doctors and nurses. They are authorities on medications and their interactions.

Pharmacists keep records on their customers, developing a log of prescriptions and medications dispensed. They oversee insurance billing for medication, and handle overall business management. They may also recommend drug regimens for patients; those that work in home health care environments prepare infusions, which are intravenous drug applications.


Pharmacist candidates must earn a Pharm. D. degree from an accredited pharmacy school. Applicants to these schools have two or more years of college experience. Entry requirements also include undergraduate work in chemistry, biology and physics. Most pharmacy schools require applicants to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).

The Pharm. D. degree has replaced the bachelors degree in pharmacy. However many pharmacists continue into masters and doctoral programs in order to broaden their career horizons. All states and the District of Columbia require a license which is awarded after successful completion of at least two exams, one a national requirement and one from the state of residence.

Current Employment

The Department of Labor estimates that 243,000 pharmacists were working in the U.S. in 2006. About two thirds of them worked in neighborhood pharmacies or chain drugstores.

Job Outlook

Pharmacist jobs are growing at a much faster rate than the overall pace of growth for all job categories. It will continue to be a healthy job market as older pharmacists retire and as new medical facilities are constructed.

Salary Range

Lowest 10%  $35.10  $73,010
Median Salary  $48.31  $100,480
Highest 10%  $60.78  $126,410

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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